Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010 – 4:15 p.m.:
- Hard to believe that the Winter Quarter is upon us. We had a very strong Fall Quarter in the classroom with a team GPA just above 3.35 including 2 women boasting 4.0’s (Megan Alexander and Lauren Massey). Out of our 26 swimmers, 21 were over a 3.0 gpa with 13 student-athletes over a 3.5 gpa. I could not be more proud of our team’s efforts in the classroom.
- Our academic success is not an accident. The previous coaching staff did an awesome job of attracting individuals who believe strongly in the value of a college education. In addition, we are blessed at The Ohio State University with an athletic department that provides the resources for success. When you put highly motivated students in a competitive environment with unlimited opportunities the results will speak for themselves.
- Next year will mark my 20th year coaching collegiately. I have been fortunate to be a part of coaching staffs that placed a premium on attracting strong students. Additionally, I made a conscious decision to work at institutions that combine strong academics with athletics. The cornerstone of every program I have been charged with building has been academic achievement.
- My college coach, Wally Morton, poked fun at me today when I was bragging about our team’s academic credentials. He reminded me that my academic profile in college was less than stellar. I am not a proponent of the value of hindsight. However, my attraction to strong students probably stems from personal experience.
- We have found a strong correlation between academic success and athletic success in our program. Academic success, to my way of thinking, simply means achieving to one’s potential. My good friend, Eddie Reese, believes that in order to be a good coach you need to be a pretty good guesser. One of my strengths as a coach is that I am a pretty good guesser when it comes to what individuals are capable of achieving academically and athletically. Show me a young person who achieves to their potential in the classroom and there is a pretty good chance they are reaching their potential in the pool as well.
- I recently pulled out an excellent article by Pete Raykovich from the June/July 1994 issue of American Swimming Magazine. I remember as a young coach at Ashland University cutting the article out to share with my team. The article is titled: Don’t Touch Me! I Have FINALS! The gist of the article is that there is a strong correlation between academic gpa and practice attendance(and, in turn athletic success). Pete was correct in 1994 and he is correct today! That is the reason why we choose to recruit academically mature athletes…they have more time to devote to their other endeavors.
Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009 – 4:30 p.m.:
- Getting ready to head on deck for day two finals at the Ohio State Invitational. We had as good a session this morning as any since coming to Ohio State one year ago. It was good from both a preparation and expectation standpoint. Our team is really starting to embrace the idea that preparing to win is more important than the actual act of winning. And, we are expecting positive outcomes in our performances as opposed to hoping for the best. This is a significant step for any program and one that will serve us well in the future.
- I would not say that we are swimming all that fast. However, we are pretty consistent from effort to effort. We are cutting down on mistakes and, in most cases, our athletes are aware of areas for improvement/correction prior to feedback from the coaches.
- Training-wise, we are coming off of a recovery week built around the Thanksgiving holiday. We backed off both our volume and intensity last week. The team came back on Sunday evening for a water workout and we ran a “normal” 3 day cycle of training…threshold, active rest and quality through Tuesday afternoon. We pretty much floated the girls on Wednesday and Thursday heading into the meet. On land, this was an unload week in the weight room with testing (cleans and pull ups) on Monday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon focusing on some timed lifts as 30-40% of 1rm.
- We will shift gears in our water training coming out of the invite this weekend with the goal of developing more speed and race pace type training over the next 6-8 weeks. It is always a challenge to get everyone on the same page in December with final exams, training camps and holiday travel. We are up for the challenge.
Monday, Nov. 23, 2009 – 2:19 p.m.:
- The bus arrived back in Columbus from Purdue last night about 10 p.m. Purdue is a four-hour drive and the trip went by quickly. Being in Columbus, we miss very little class time for in-season meets as we can get just about anywhere in the Midwest in a few hours. We had some great people making a difference to our program on the trip including our driver Daryl, our videographer Erin Fawley and our team Athletic Trainer Ashley Clark. We are grateful to have the resources that we are blessed with at Ohio State.
- I am probably going to have to do a better job of screening the movies we watch on bus trips as “The Girl Next Door” was passed to the front of the bus with glowing recommendations from the team. Stefanie gave it two thumbs down!
- We gave the team this morning off and they will recover them tonight with some long aerobic swimming which will be pretty low intensity stuff. We also have a light lift scheduled after our swim. We have a morning workout tomorrow, race Cleveland State tomorrow night, have a swim and lift Wednesday morning then we’ll cut the team loose for a few days at home for Thanksgiving. I keep saying the team is doing a terrific job this year, and it really is the case. Some time off at home is well deserved and needed. My hope is that time away with family and friends will recharge the body, mind and spirit.
- Overall, Purdue was a success. Obviously, any time we compete we are striving to win. That being said, we made decisions prior to the season about our priorities for the current year. Based on our training, overall goals and current team, the past weekend served its purpose by presenting multiple learning opportunities for both the team and staff. The key now is to take what we learned and make the necessary adjustments.
- In looking at the weekend results, we were probably most pleased with our relays. There were many new faces making a case to be on our relays come February and March. For us to be a consistent presence in the top ten at NCAA’s, our relays will be a critical component.
- We will do a press release on the Buckeye Class of 2014 in the next few weeks. I am not a fan of some of the hyperbole that surrounds recruiting classes before they have ever stepped foot on a college campus. That being said, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited about the group that we have coming to Columbus next year.
- Our team and staff at Ohio State wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends…
Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 – 2:52 p.m.:
- Pumped up to do some racing this weekend at Purdue. Can honestly say that I am not sure what we will see as we have done so little racing this fall compared to most teams. Outside of practice, we have raced our intrasquad (ok, kind of a glorified workout) and a dual with Kenyon. Some of the teams that I have watched results on have raced 6-8 times already.
- I love championship format meets as it gives our staff an opportunity to give meaningful feedback that can be implemented from session to session and day to day. Further, there is a learning curve to success in a multi-day format that is tough to replicate in workout or dual meets.
- We are a different team today than one year ago on many levels. I was reading some literature yesterday debating whether anaerobic capacity was an innate ability or could be trained. It was agreed that if it could be trained that it took a long time (1-2 years and sometimes more). When I look around in workout we are doing so many things well. The improvement runs the gamut from faster threshold paces, more consistent on active rest days, tighter body lines in the water to a willingness to take risks in workout. The improvements are fun to coach and experience but are the result of “water under the bridge”. In other words, there is no shortcut or quick way to the top. It is simply a function of a long term approach.
- Growing in our sport requires surrounding yourself with coaches and athletes who have a willingness to be honest with themselves and each other about what it is going to take to reach their respective goals. It starts with identifying your weaknesses and then attacking them. This takes a special type of person as human nature pushes us toward our strengths. It also requires a safe environment that encourages risk taking with a safety net of like-minded teammates and coaches.
Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009 – 10:26 a.m.:
- We were outstanding last night in workout. During a typical training week we reserve Wednesday and Saturday for our quality efforts. These are also the days that we have only one swim workout and do no dryland or lift weights prior to the swim. Meaning, we are creating the opportunity to come in and challenge yourself during these two training sessions.
- Our quality efforts can range from a rainbow set which moves through all of the energy zones to VO2 max to lactate production or lactate peak type work. It depends on the time of the season or the focus of our current training cycle. We have spent 9 weeks building aerobic capacity while doing enough speed work, in order, to not lose speed all together. So, our Wednesday and Saturday work has been rainbow or VO2’ish in nature with a mixture of lactate work to date.
- Yesterday we opened up the intervals a little to allow for some speed (actually, speed endurance might be a better description of what took place). We had 3 training groups depending on end-of-season events and goals.
- As an example, our sprint group went a set of 30 x 50 (130) with 1-18 alternating 2 max/1 ez from a push with the bank being open on the easy (this is how we tell our athletes that they may go directly into the easy swim thereby getting more than 1:30 of rest). On numbers 19-30 we alternated 1 max/1 ez from a dive with the bank open on the easy. All of our max efforts were done with a 100 breathing and kick pattern based on end-of-season goals.
- This morning we went for some recovery type work that was skill based. One of my pet peeves is when we mention the word recovery and athletes go brain dead. I would guess that 90% of the team would say that this morning was not recovery. I suppose you need to define recovery…this morning we went with the coach’s definition.
Thursday Morning Main Set
(Pool was set up with sprint assist cord strung across the width of the surface of the pool at 12-1/2 yards)
3 rounds of…
8 x 50 (sendoffs varied by round depending on equipment and focus)
4 x 75
2 x 100
1 x 200
Round 1- kick 12-1/2 under and 12-1/2 over with a flip turn each wall wearing fins and 5-pound ankle weights. This was almost like doing traditional land based abs in the water. The focus was on the movement not going fast. All kicking was flutter or dolphin.
Round 2- kick 12-1/2 under and 12-1/2 over with flip turns each wall wearing only fins. The efforts were faster, the intervals smaller and the athletes commented on how quick their feet felt on flip turns (I may use this later in the year to get faster feet on free and back turns).
Round 3- kick 12-1/2 under with a two stroke breakout in your main stroke focusing on being clean and flat. These were done with no gear, open turns and an extra pause on the wall so that the focus was on the skill and not a lack of oxygen. Breaststrokers went double pullouts.
The reason this workout would be recovery is that our team is used to doing this workout as a kick set without gear going fast all three rounds. Recovery is relative to what your athletes are used to doing in training.
Having used variations of this set for a few years we have found it has served as a valuable addition to our training regimen. It allows athletes to gain comfort and confidence underwater. Also, it is one of the best tools I have found for improving streamlines as there is a natural adaptation that takes place subconsciously…probably a survival mechanism!
Monday, Nov. 2, 2009 – 11 a.m.:
- We had a solid first dual meet of the year against a flu-depleted Kenyon team. I asked Kenyon coach Jim Steen if he wanted to cancel the meet or reschedule and he would have none of it. There is a reason he is one of the best in the business as he loves a challenge and can turn adversity into a learning experience.
- I was pleased with our relay efforts on Friday as we mixed up the strokes and combinations looking for some hidden gems. We are blessed with some talent and speed this season which will translate into much improved Buckeye relays in February and March.
- One of the last skills that we have taught or worked on this fall has been the relay pick-up. The first order of business is teaching the actual movement while holding off on the timing of the takeoff till later in the season. The actual relay takeoff needs to be explosive, aggressive and mirror some of our dynamic work on land. If the athlete is too focused on the timing then they are going to be tentative on the end of the block thereby not gaining the maximum benefit of momentum. So, the fact that we had a relay disqualified (DQ) did not upset me too much as prior to the meet I encouraged the girls to be aggressive with their takeoffs. My experience tells me that the majority of relay DQ’s are a function of poor finishes in the water as opposed to poor timing by the athlete on the block…that is a lesson for another day.
- On Saturday we spent 15 minutes at the end of workout doing peer coaching of relay takeoffs. The idea of peer coaching is one that I have borrowed from Frank Busch. It is a terrific way to have your team communicate on a “deeper” level than simply saying “nice job” to each other. At one point we pulled Shannon Draves, Megan Detro and Catherine Eitel out of the water for a “spotlight swim” to demonstrate aggressive, athletic and clean relay takeoffs.
- Unfortunately, our upcoming dual meet with Cincinnati was cancelled which means that we do not race until the Purdue Invitational the 3rd weekend of November (Nov. 20-22 at West Lafayette, Ind.). I am thinking of putting in the timing system for the next few Saturdays to stimulate some race quality efforts in workouts.
Friday October 30, 2009 11:42 p.m.:
- Hard to believe that our first dual meet of the 2010 campaign is upon us. We are looking forward to racing Kenyon tonight along with our men’s team. We will be racing the 16-event format which will give each team member an opportunity to race up to four times. Most of our line-up will be focused on swimming secondary events or weak-stroke for the IMer’s. All of our end-of-the-season relay spots are up for grabs so tonight will be an opportunity to see who wants to set the bar for spots on Buckeye relays.
- We are finishing our eighth week of training this fall with the focus being fitness and strength-driven on land along with an aerobic emphasis in the pool. This is the first week that I have seen some residual fatigue in our water training. Which begs the question: is it a function of our work on land, work in the water or a combination to the two? Also, is the fatigue cumulative or acute? As you can see, I have more questions than answers. I do believe as a coach it is a lot easier to get them tired than it is to get them fast.
- This group has been a real pleasure to coach. They are engaged and spirited in their approach to the sport. Also, they have a sincere desire to improve.